Peterborough & the Kawarthas – The Word Travels: Literary Places to Visit Ep 3

First we’ll talk a little bit about the locales
related to the writers in question and the first is where we are now. We are in Scott House, of Trail College. This college was the first college for females
at Trent University. Opened in the late 1960’s and it was named
for Catherine Parr Traill as one of the great literary people of this area. We have several different houses here, which
were residences at one time or another. One named for Isabella Valancy Crawford, another
named for Francis Stewart. Interestingly, no building named for Susanna
Moodie, Catherine Parr Traills younger sister. And I think that was because the ladies who
were setting this up, in conjunction with Ron Tom who was the master architect for the
university, didn’t like Moodie as much as they liked Traill. And there is this sort of sense that people
will say “Oh, I like Moodie and I don’t like Traill”. Or “I like Traill and I don’t like Moodie”. People tend to choose one or the other. I’m one of those people who likes them both. So this is the junior common room that we’re
in, in Traill College. Traill is now, it’s been changed over the
years from being an undergraduate college to being the college for graduate studies
at Trent. And the Canadian Studies program is located
in an adjacent building here called Carr House. So this is one of the nice literary, kind
of cultural places to come to Peterborough. It’s at the corner of Reid and London St.
and it has many different and interesting buildings overall. Another place I would suggest is Hutchison
House, which is now a living museum dedicated to the first doctor in the Peterborough area,
a Scottsman named Dr. John Hutchison. Who was, the house was built for him by the
then citizens of Peterborough, in order to keep him here. Because keeping a doctor was a very crucial
thing even though medicine was crude by our present day standards, you really needed a
doctor to help. Because he was a Scott and he linked up well
with Thomas Traill, Catherine’s husband and John Moodie, Susanna’s husband who were both
Orkney men. And so both Catherine Parr Traill and Susanna
Moodie had many of their medical needs seen to by Doctor Hutchison. It’s a lovely old house on Brock Street, just
near Bethune and it does daily tours, you can have Scottish tea there and so on and
there are often exhibitions or exhibits that look at various aspects of the history. There’s a kind of living Doctors office and
so on. So it’s quite a lovely little place. Robertson Davies two houses would be maybe
of some interest. One on Weller St., the other on Park St. Davies
worked for the Peterborough Examiner and he would walk from his home in the West end to
the office, which was at the corner of, let me try to get this right. At the corner of, Water and George. It would have been, it’s now the Bank of Nova
Scotia, the Examiner building has moved around a great deal over time. So Davies had those two houses, the first
when he came to Peterborough, the second, more his choice of the house. And it’s the house currently that the founding
president of Trent University Tom Symons lives in. John Craig, I don’t know where John Craig
was born but it was in the George and London St. area of town. He grew up there, the family had a cottage
on Stoney Lake during the depression years. And he went then on his odyssey of life. He was taking various degrees and eventually
ended up in Toronto, where he raised his family. But he wanted always to be a writer, and so
in the 1970’s he took on writing full-time and they retired, he and his wife Francis
and they came up to Peterborough, back to Peterborough in, it would have been 1979. He died in 1982, so they weren’t here for
that long, although Francis continued to live in the house for a very long time. And that house is actually next door to March
Banks or the Robertson Davies/ Tom Symons house, right on the corner of Gilmour and
Park. There are other items we could kind of identify
with the town, but they’re harder to locate. James McCarroll, who I will tell you a little
bit about later, was the second newspaper editor in town and later became quite a well
known poet and story writer and humorous. But he had his newspaper office on Water St.
right across from the Courthouse. Another interesting building which does have
literary ramifications overall is St. John’s Church, St. John’s Anglican Church up on the
hill. Just close to the river, very close to the
Otonabee River and just off Hunter St. So it’s another place to look at, there’s some
very interesting plaques on the walls dating back into the early 19th century. Now I guess if we could just maybe take that
a little further, just to mention places in Lakefield. Because Lakefield was where the Moodie’s and
the Traill’s settled and they had their properties on the shores on the lake Katchewanooka. Which is the long narrow lake that runs between
Lakefield and Young’s Point . And they were actually settled like peas in a pod. Sam Strickland, their younger brother had
settled there and he helped both of the husbands get land grants on the lakeshore. So Sam was closest to Lakefield proper, then
up near the South end of Lakefield College School was where Catherine Parr Traill settled
during the 1830’s and the Moodie’s were up another mile north, just off the Stenner Rd. And in Lakefield proper there is the wonderful
little church which was built by Sam Strickland and a number of his colleagues in the early
1850’s, it’s called Christ’s Church. And it is both a consecrated church and a
living museum dedicated in large part to the Moodies and the Traills and the Stricklands. Catherine Parr Traill’s house, the house she
lived in for her last 40 years, is on Smith St. in Lakefield and is still there and is
still lived in. And Margaret Laurence’s house of course is
in Lakefield as well, on Regent St. quite near Christ Church. So one can do a kind of quick look at both of
those places. There’s a plaque out front of Margaret’s place. There’s a small plaque in front of the property
that the Moodie’s had up on Katchewanooka. There’s a provincial plaque to Catherine Parr
Traill in front of her house on Smith St. and there is a plaque to Sam Stickland in
front of Christ Church. Oddly enough the Moodie plaque which you’d expect to find,
they didn’t know where to put it when they put it up. So it’s actually in the little park just as
you come into Lakefield, across from Hamblin’s Ice Cream Parlor.

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